It’s been a while since we have toured the Ure outpost here in the Outback of East Texas. Despite the two major eye operations, Life goes on…and with it, our hobbies, pastimes, and amusements.

Starting with the hobbies: Fellow ham radio enthusiasts will appreciate that I just picked up an antique radio to restore. It’s a Hallicrafters HT-18 and one of the earliest examples of a “civilian” variable frequency transmitter.

You may not realize it, but for the first (roughly) 50 years of radio, the frequency of the transmitter was maintained by a crystal.

This was a small piece of quartz, precision-ground, and held between two metal plates. When properly place in a circuit (a crystal oscillator), that little hunk of quartz would vibrate and so many times per second – and this determined the radio’s transmitting frequency.

During World War II, variable frequency oscillators (VFO’s) became important, as popularized in the ARC-5 series of radios.

After the war, often times this radios (light weight and designed for airborne use) were scavenged for their VFO circuits and when Single Sideband came along, manufacturers like Central Electronics in their 10-A and 20-A models, would offer a retooled VFO based on the ARC-5’s as their frequency generator.

The radio coming to me from up in Kalama, WA is not exactly high-power. It develops a whopping 4-watts of output, but that is enough to send Morse code anywhere in the world provided the right band (frequency range) is used and the operators at both ends have some degree of skill.

This odd penchant (how far can you communicate with a flashlight’s worth of power) is called “QRP” operation; taken from the list of Q signals developed by Morse operators over the years.

There’s a pretty good list of Q-codes available on Wikipedia over here.

Among young radio ops, such of me and my lifelong bud up in Gig Harbor, we would often change the meanings of certain codes.

For example, I might say “It’s time to QSY…” In Q-code, this means “change frequency” but it was convenient short-hand for let’s get out of here and go somewhere else. Early parent-proof comms are not a new invention of the FB crowd. Been around forever.

When it arrives, and over the next year, it will be restored to good operating order, and it will be paired with an early Hallicrafters SX-101 receiver, still one of the best ever built. That will be my “QRP” station.

Do note that there is a prepping angle to this: QRP is a very useful art because if TSHTF, we will not be “plush with power” and low power units that can operate a day or longer on a car battery will be prized. Tube type gear, of course “eats more power” than transistorized gear, but it’s nearly completely EMP proof when disconnected from the antenna system. So this is more art than form, in some ways. But for the real deal, I’ve built up a solid-state QRP radio that lives in our Faraday garbage can.

The Tour Moves On…

Panama’s Housing Hunt, Chapter 8

Panama and his wife are tiring of living in their tiny apartment here at Uretopia.   But I have never seen someone have so many house deals fall through.  Call Guinness.

At last count, I think it was up to seven, or so.

The list of reasons is impressive: Sometimes a home would be listed VA but it would turn out to be on a non-complying water system, so there went one.

Another had termites. Another had foundation issues. Still another had other structural issues….and so it has gone for them.

It may be a “buyers market” but when you really want to take the time and get a good house in a reasonable neighborhood, free of insects, structural defects, and clear title, things get “iffy”,

In fact, one of the homes they tried to buy was owned by VA…and they couldn’t find the title and associated paperwork.

I have told you before about “The Bates Luck” and it really is something to behold. My theory is he used his lifetime “Luck” allocation during his 20 years in SF, two combat tours in ‘Nam, and years through 1991, or so, being a “lone wolf” type in the jungles of Central and South America. My theory is that after all that, his luck has been pretty much spent. And his real estate efforts tend to bear out that hypothesis.

Panama is a fine fellow, wouldn’t hurt a fly (since retiring) and you’d think that over time, a little portion of luck would accumulate. But in his case it hasn’t and it’s pronouced enough that I could damn near write a book about it.

Elaine’s Maters

We didn’t put in a garden this year. Nor did I hook up hydroponics. Still, Elaine has three bit plant pots up on the deck in front of the dining room with two tomato plants and one citronella plant.

The tomato plant has its first tomato showing and its about dollar-sized. She’s out every day inspecting it. Along with administering some kind of chicken-poop-based “organic” fertilizer than make a sour landfill seem perfumed in comparison.

She also has been researching adding a bit of solution of Epsom Salts to the equation. But I don’t ask.

One of our readers over on the comments side of this site (Bryce) has been doing porch gardening, and I’m trying to get him to write up how he’s done it and maybe a picture, or two.

Over the winter, I did get the deck finished with the 2X6 top rail that was going to be a hydroponic lettuce bed, but time got away from me. So much for To-Do lists, but I have more excuses than Carter has pills.

(If you’re under 50 and can’t comprehend what I’m referring to, see Carter’s Little Liver Pills in Wikipedia here.)

Echo’s of Present

The eye surgery Thursday was longer than expected – another nearly 2 ½ hours worth. The operative eye is healing, but very slowly, it feels like about 20/70 at the moment, but it should quiet down in coming weeks.

So I passed the time Sunday having our Amazon Echo read me the first several chapters of Joseph Farrell’s latest: Hidden Finance, Rogue Networks, and Secret Sorcery: The Fascist International, 9/11, and Penetrated Operations,

The book is interesting, but it is very 9/11-centric. In the second half of the book, you begin to get into the Nazi’s that escaped punishment after WW II and from there into the UFO’s that have been recovered, and so forth.

If you don’t have one of the voice-controlled computer/companions yet, they are a lot of fund.

One problem – which I’m sure that Amazon engineers are working on – is that in a heavily footnoted book, you can burn 10-minutes at the end of a chapter listening to all the citations. Given the command “Alexa, next chapter”, the computer comes back with “I can’t do that yet.”

But in time, I’m sure they will get to it.

So there ou have it – airplane will start it’s annual inspection process this week and I am still going on the assumption that the eyes will be good enough for flying sign-off. (20-40 or better and the right eye is already there.)

In the meantime, just waiting for the left eye to heal up to the point we can refract the glasses for it – get them made – and then get back to the business of high-speed living.

What’s the old saying? “There’s too much to do in the here-and-now. Plenty of time for rest in the grave.”

A Personal Memorial

Last, but not least, you know what day this is.

For the friends I went to high school with who didn’t come back from a certain slice of hell in Southeast Asia, Gil and others from high school, thank you for your service.

I will spend at least an hour today trying to figure out how the president can claim Vietnam’s sovereignty IS important, but Syria’s is NOT.

I used to pray that those who gave their lives in service of America had not done so in vain.

But clearly, the globalist agenda has other plans in mind.  And the voices of those who oppose corporate tyranny are strangely quiet.  Oh, wait, they got theirs.

Even if the eye surgery had not gone well, there are some of us who are not blind.

Write when you get rich…